Leopoldo López ’93 H’07, a political prisoner in Venezuela for one year, has been named the recipient of the Alumni Council Humanitarian Service Award.
The award, announced during a Kenyon-sponsored event by López’s sister, Adriana López Vermut, in Washington, D.C., is the latest show of support from the Kenyon community that is trying to bring attention to his case to help win his freedom.
“I am personally awed by his passion and courage, and his example is an inspiration,” said Susan Berger ’85, Alumni Council president. “We are an alumni community 18,000 strong and we will continue to add our voices to his cause of freedom and justice.”
On the same day the annual award was announced, López’s wife, Lilian Tintori, said in a CNN interview from Caracas that he is strong after his year in jail as a leader in the opposition to Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro.
“I am full of hope that change is coming. Dissent is not a crime. Protest is not a crime,” she said.
López, former mayor of a district of Caracas, was accused of participating in a failed coup against former president Hugo Chávez and arrested in February 2014 after violence at an anti-government rally left three dead.
The announcement of the humanitarian award came with two briefings in Washington by López Vermut, including one event sponsored by the Center for the Study of American Democracy at Kenyon. His sister also spoke on behalf of her brother at Kenyon in the fall.
"The widespread interest in these events from the Kenyon community reflect a remarkably deep level of support for Leopoldo and his struggle against an oppressive regime,” said Thomas Karako, CSAD director and assistant professor of political science.
Tintori said in the interview that their 5-year-old daughter asks if her father will die in jail and that living in Venezuela is difficult because security is poor and food and medicine can be difficult to find. Venezuelans must continue to ask for help from democratic world leaders and to fight for peace and progress, she said.